March 5, 2020

New Blue Economy Initiative Gets Under Way

News Source: The Jamaica Gleaner

BELIZE CITY —A new US$46 million initiative to promote Blue Economic priorities in the Caribbean, in support of the sustainable use and conservation of the region’s vast and diverse marine ecosystems and  resources, gets underway with a two-day inception workshop March 5-6 at the Best Western Plus Belize Biltmore Plaza Hotel in Belize City.

The inception workshop will be attended by representatives from Barbados, Belize, Guyana, Jamaica, Panama and Saint Lucia as well as partner agencies including the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the Development Bank of Latin American.

It is expected that at the conclusion of the workshop, the participating States and partners will have agreed on the main activities, milestones and timeline to develop the detailed project document and work plan for submission to the Global Environment Fund (GEF) for consideration by November 2020.

Marine ecosystems account for over 80 per cent of CARICOM States and territories, supporting not just fisheries, but also tourism, ocean transportation, energy, and other economic pillars.

They are also critical to the sustainable livelihoods of coastal communities and food security for markets even beyond their borders.

Despite threats that confront the region—not the least of which are climate change, ocean acidification, marine pollution and irresponsible fishing—the Blue Economy model still holds great promise.

The current initiative, entitled ‘Blue Economy: Caribbean Large Marine Ecosystem Plus (CLME+): Promoting National Blue Economy Priorities through Marine Spatial Planning in the Caribbean Large Marine Ecosystem Plus,’  is a 4-year project funded by GEF with a grant of US$6.2 million and co-financing of US$40.1 million.

The Development Bank of Latin America will be the lead implementing agency while FAO will be a co-implementing agency.

The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism will be the project executing agency.

The GEF-funded ‘BE-CLME+ Project’ will promote blue economy development in the Caribbean region through marine spatial planning and marine protected areas, the ecosystem approach to fisheries, and development of sustainable fisheries value chains.

The expected results of the project include focused climate-smart investments into national and regional marine spatial planning efforts that inform development and implementation of national blue economy strategies.

The multi-country project will also focus on extending or strengthening marine protected areas to preserve marine ecosystems and ensure sustainable livelihoods to coastal and fishery communities.

The project is also expected to result in the establishment of a regional marine spatial planning for ecosystem-based fisheries, inclusive sustainable fisheries value chains, and new or expanded marine protected areas in at least five Caribbean countries.